By Joel Dullroy, Radio Spaetkauf
Berliners will go to the polls to vote for their local councils and the city-state government on Sunday September 18 2016. Who should you vote for – if you can vote? Radio Spaetkauf decodes the parties and their programmes for you:
WHO CAN VOTE?
If you’re a European Union citizen and have registered your address with the Bürgeramt, you are eligible to vote – but only at the very local level, which is called the Bezirks-Verordneten-Versammlung, or BVV or short. You should have received a letter in the mail informing you of your polling station. If you didn’t get a letter, you aren’t registered and can’t vote.
You get one vote, and you can give it to one party. Each party has lists of candidates who are given seats depending on what percentage of votes they win. There are no independents in the BVV system. These local councils decide on street-level issues. Most importantly, they can decide whether to declare an area as a “Milieuschütgebeit”, which creates extra restrictions over housing policy – which is good for renters.
Not sure who to vote for? If you’re worried about your rent going up, check if the party supports more Milieuschützgebeit and rent controls. This is the most effective thing you can do with your local vote.
WHO IS PROMISING WHAT?
Here’s a run-down on the main parties and what they stand for, in order of how they’re currently polling:
Latest poll: 22% (down from 28%).
Leader: Michael Müller.
About: In power in Berlin for the past 27 years, as major coalition partner for the past 15. Oversaw (or overlooked) the BER disaster.
For: More investment in education, free lunches at schools, and free kindergartens.
Against: Spaetkaufs opening on Sundays, legal cannabis.
Leader: Frank Henkel.
Latest poll: 18% (down from 23% at last election).
About: Have been in coalition with the SPD since 2011. Got tough on protesters, squatters and drug dealers.
For: More police, more video cameras, using police in evictions.
Against: Gay marriage, burquas, streets named after Karl Marx.
BÜNDIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN (THE GREENS)
Latest poll: 18% (17.6% at last election).
Leaders: Ramona Pop and Antje Kapek.
About: The only party to fully back the goals of the Volksentscheid Fahrrad (bicycle referendum).
For: Spaetkaufs open on Sundays, legalizing cannabis and same-sex marriage, body-cams on police.
Against: The A100 highway through Treptow/Friedrichshain.
Latest poll: 14% (17.6% at last election).
Leaders: Klaus Lederer.
About: Were part of the ruling coalition in the 2000s with Klaus Wowereit’s SPD.
For: Tougher rent controls, free kindergartens, legalizing cannabis and same sex marriage.
Against: Spaetkaufs opening on Sundays.
Latest poll: 14% (didn’t exist at last election).
Leaders: Georg Pazderski.
About: Nationalists, xenophobes, homophobes.
For: Border controls, less migration and refugees, zero tolerance on crime.
Against: Immigrants, non-traditional families, the TV tax.
Latest poll: 5% (1.8% at last election).
Leaders: Sebastian Czaja.
About: Trying to make a come-back after being destroyed at the last election.
For: Keeping Tegel airport open, building the A100 highway, English as a second bureaucratic language.
Against: The AirBnB crackdown, most regulation and taxes, investment in social housing.
Latest poll: Less than 3% (8.9% at last election).
Leaders: Bruno Kramm.
About: Were very effective in asking lots of questions in parliament and documenting the BER disaster.
For: Free public internet across Berlin, pilot project for unconditional basic income, free public transport.
Against: The A100 highway, video surveillance, the BER airport company.
OTHERS TO MENTION…
- DIE PARTEI: A joke party that occasionally makes some prescient social points. Have already booked SO36 for their victory party.
- BERGPARTEI: Another joke party, originally formed to build a mountain in Berlin.
- DKP: The Communist party, promising lower rents and higher wages.
- NPD: Almost Nazis. Germany’s main far-right party, before the AFD came along.
- BÜRGERBEWEGUNG: Another right-wing party trying to trick voters with love hearts.
STILL NOT SURE WHO TO VOTE FOR?
Try using the Wahl-O-Mat website.
SO WHO IS GOING TO WIN?
The most likely outcome is a coalition between the SPD, Die Linke and Die Grünen. The CDU wants to stay in power in coalition with the SPD, but Michael Müller has said he’d prefer to share power with the Greens. At the last election, a potential SPD/Greens coalition failed to materialise because of disputes over the A100 highway. Those still exist, but the parties seem willing to work through it this time around. But the polls are close, and almost 30% of voters have told pollsters they are undecided. It’s still anyone’s game.
Listen to the latest episode of Radio Spaetkauf for a full analysis of the election and possible outcomes, with some graphic design critique thrown in: